Day 27: Reese’s Journal Entry 3: Cultural Translator

I was given a job. My Zoë, Amber, says I was a tough case to find a good fit for. If I asked you to guess what you think I do, I’m sure you’d say I was a teacher, and you’d be close. I’m not teaching anymore. I’m a Cultural Translator. You see, the name of the Resurrectorium includes ‘1920’ not because it’s Anno Domini 1920, but because people here are from the mid-nineteenth through the late twentieth centuries. You can imagine that creates some linguistic confusion, even when we’re speaking the same language. So with my background teaching they asked me to help people learn each other’s lingo, and more than that, work on cultural expectations. I’ve got people here wanting to know when they can get a cell phone, and I have to explain there are no cell phones. Then I’ve got people here who have to be taught to use a rotary dial. Oh, the rotary dial is easy enough, but having to remember someone’s number… They usually call the operator. But the Regions aren’t all Euro-American: Other areas of Region 1920 have other cultural groups so that people feel at home when they arrive. Unlike moving up and down the timeline, say to Region 2021, these are parts of the same region, 1920, that anyone can travel to on the interurban.

Here’s an example of what I do: It turns out ‘twenty three skidoo’ really was a phrase people used in the nineteen twenties in North America, but not many people used it. Jazz musicians took ‘hot’ for someone who played hot jazz licks (itself a coining) and turned it around into ‘cool.’ The old meaning remained so that even though ‘cool’ means ‘not warm’ to everybody, by the time we were growing up it also meant ‘good, okay, fine,’ etc. There’s a lot of that, and I work with some pretty neat people. Lots of couples. Sometimes whole families. It’s a mixed bag, emotionally.

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